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Bob Dylan, SEC Armadillo, Glasgow, October 30 & 31, 2022

7 min read
Bob Dylan, SEC Armadillo, Glasgow, October 30 & 31, 2022

It is Hallowe’en night in the metropolis. A properly-dressed skeleton gives you a syringe. The ground starts to glow. It’s shadow hour desire time, with your host, Bob Dylan.

On the second night time of the Tough And Rowdy Techniques tour’s spooked and spiritual mini-residency in Glasgow, as the wet streets fill with costumed figures and flicker with the gentle of scattered pumpkin lanterns, it’s really hard not to think about the most well-known Hallowe’en concert Dylan has performed, back on Oct 31, 1964, at New York City’s Philharmonic Corridor, a landmark functionality that grew to become a treasured bootleg, inevitably canonised with formal launch as section of the Bootleg Sequence.

Bob Dylan

Stepping out with an acoustic guitar and harmonica, Dylan, twenty-3 yrs outdated, and relocating quickly, proceeded to stun his audience with a live performance that integrated a fistful of clean-minted tracks that travelled in directions no 1 predicted. Lengthy compositions that dealt disturbing visions in sophisticated patterns of words, hails of imagery each pointed and opaque, stabbing and tender. Tunes that existed in their own place, however appeared uniquely suited to the climbing turbulence of the environment outside the house, sent with a concentration that took the breath absent.

Immediately after one particular, “Gates Of Eden”, he reassured the crowd: “Don’t permit that scare ya. It’s just Hallowe’en. I have my Bob Dylan mask on. I’m masquerading…”

Flash forward particularly fifty-8 several years later on, and, nicely, to quote the lyric from “I have Manufactured Up My Mind To Give Myself To You” that serves as strapline on the tour poster, Items Are not What They Were. Besides, effectively, maybe some points are.

Dylan, accompanied by his immaculate five-piece band all dressed in black – all the far better to develop into pure shadow when the phase lights drop and the towering Black Lodge curtained backdrop blazes up like a wall of fireplace at the rear of them – is no extended the solo troubadour, and no extended 23 a long time-old.

However listed here he arrives. Even now developing at a prodigious rate (this show arrives on the eve of the publication of his new guide, The Philosophy Of Modern day Song, though the final yr has observed the recording of at minimum an album’s worth of music in the form of the periods for the Shadow Kingdom film that observed him reworking chapters of his songbook.) Nevertheless energised most by the most the latest music in his repertoire, extensive, intricate compositions that, tonight, build their own entire world. Nevertheless offering them with a concentration that is spellbinding.

Meantime, outside, the feeling that the civilisation is continue to trembling on the edge of an abyss usually takes treatment of alone. “Y’know it is Hallowe’en,” Dylan teases involving music in 2022. “All Saints’ Working day. And–I–am–scared.” Then he prospects us into a mesmerising model of “Key West (Philosopher Pirate)” that soothes any worry away for as extended as it lasts. And it appears to past endlessly.

As he has been performing almost without the need of variation, Dylan performed the exact established both of those nights in Glasgow. The to start with show, on Sunday, was totally magical, but – perhaps it’s the spirits unfastened in the air – the 2nd feels like a action up, every thing shifting into new target.

Wherever friends like The Stones can reproduce sets like a equipment, Dylan normally pushes music in performance, handles them palms-on, so that rough edges and rowdy times of uncertainty, or discovery, are still authorized. On Sunday, main from behind his battered upright piano, that wilfulness saw the odd minute of discord as his extemporised piano traces often bumped and crashed against the groove the band laid down. At one issue, his willpower to regularly recast tunes in distinct people, distinct costumes, saw a freshly rearranged “Gotta Serve Someone” virtually drop aside. As the band took a stumble, Dylan stopped singing on the commencing of a line, stating and re-stating the defeat on piano though the group leaned in close to him, observing, listening, till everyone jumped back again on it. Simultaneously, the phase lights went out off-cue, plunging the performers into disorienting blackness for an apocalyptic next.

On Hallowe’en night time, even though, they really don’t only nail this new “Gotta Serve Anyone” they practically nail the audience to the wall with it, as guitarists Bob Britt and Doug Lancio lock into a ferocious twin guitar assault that hits like a thick, fuzzy twister. Meanwhile, throughout the night time, Dylan’s piano, irrespective of whether he’s participating in major, heat, gospel-soaked chords, baroque little filigrees, or spindly lines that slink like a jazz cartoon, does not collide with the groove, but rubs in opposition to it, winds about it, like a cat. The initial night time he stepped out from at the rear of the piano a couple times to accept applause. Tonight, he stays standing at the rear of it during, a gentleman at do the job.

His singing is distinct the 2nd night, much too. On Sunday, Dylan was in incredibly effective voice – he appears rejuvenated correct now – but on Hallowe’en he switches tack, singing with the exact same sustained energy, but reining back again, wielding it in softer, extra tender, normally far more playful methods. He barks and bites when he needs to, but on “Crucial West” and “I Contain Multitudes”, he positively purrs. On “I have Built Up My Mind To Give Myself To You”, his singing is comfortable as breath, his piano touches glint like moonlight hitting h2o, and there is no require to be ashamed if that’s a tear in your eye.

The adjustments Dylan built to his previous tracks for Shadow Kingdom affect these displays as considerably as the Rough And Rowdy Strategies album alone, and tonight the curious mixture of playfulness and sheer depth of target makes the new arrangements shine and glow. A ton of it has to do with the way his new drummer Charley Drayton performs – significantly less pushing songs alongside than responding, commenting, or, when he rattles his shaker, sending an ominous shiver by them, a seem that creeps and ghosts all around the auditorium like the spectre of a snake.

When I Paint My Masterpiece” rolls out as a sort of Celtic riverboat piece. “I’ll Be Your Child Tonight” shifts via eras, commencing somewhere close to 1967, right before out of the blue switching pitch into the stomping showtime go-go riff of Roy Head’s 1966 hit “Treat Her Right” – a music Dylan final played throughout a rehearsal for his sharp-sloppy punk visual appearance on Late Evening With David Letterman in 1984. “To Be By yourself With You” gets to be a spry Appalachian hoe-down in an prolonged instrumental coda as Dylan’s piano gets into a lengthy trade-off with Donnie Heron’s lilting fiddle.

Most telling, though, is how the most recent music keep on to evolve. Some Tough And Rowdy tracks stay a great deal as they were on the album, as with tonight’s fantastic Hallowe’en a single-two mix punch of the strange tales “Black Rider” (darkish, stark, echoing) and “My Have Variation Of You” (simply unbelievable).

But other folks have already moved on to different areas. “False Prophet” has get rid of its first pores and skin, dependent on Billy Emerson’s “If Lovin’ Is Believing”, and now arrives sashaying out swinging its shoulders to a riff moulded after Minor Walter’s “Just A Feeling”, continuing Dylan’s job-very long entrancement with Walter. “Let’s go for a walk in the garden…darlin’” he winks, someway finding place to fit but an additional word in there. “Important West”, one of the fantastic tracks on Rough & Rowdy, is possibly most radically reshaped of all, almost a completely different tune now, and but nevertheless beaming out from the very same trancelike paradise zone on the horizon, and drawing you towards it.

As the stage lights burn pumpkin-orange all-around them, every single tune appears a emphasize in a various way. Most poignantly, perhaps, when Dylan reaches the level wherever he stands Elvis Presley and Martin Luther King in line in his song of vocation, “Mom of Muses”. Record sparks in weird means as you remember Elvis singing Dylan music, recall Dylan singing on the ways of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, just right before King explained, “I have a dream.”

All all-around these performances hangs the dilemma of regardless of whether, following so several many years, this is Dylan’s farewell to performing live. Is this the parting glass? The Ending Tour? When he gets to the night’s ultimate tune, “Just about every Grain Of Sand”, it is challenging to push that imagined absent, specially when, for the only time, he picks up his harmonica and blows out 1 ultimate, wordless refrain, nevertheless sounding like Bob Dylan on harmonica, nevertheless a seem like nothing else.

The location just erupts afterward, and erupts yet again when, immediately after they’ve produced their exit, Dylan and the band return from the shadows to get 1 last bow, Dylan standing nodding as the roars and applause occur very long and tough, the crowd not seeking to let them go.

But following that, they’re gone. Dylan’s piano chair sits vacant. As the lights arrive up, I overhear a gals recall viewing him the very first time he played Glasgow, back in the electrical mist of 1966, when he was altering items, doing a little something new, going fast. I experienced to wonder irrespective of whether she had made it right here in time for his closing show in city, too. And but, observing him continue to pushing, nonetheless doing work at it, nonetheless retaining his music restlessly alive, nevertheless locating a thing new, he would seem like a gentleman who continue to reckons he has a lot of function left to do. In the meantime, it’s just Hallowe’en, and, at the door on the way exterior, one particular of the usherettes is standing smiling with a phony knife pushed by means of her head.

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